The American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics has elected Mark Koepke, professor of physics at West Virginia University, to be the division’s next vice-president beginning Nov. 18, chair-elect in 2012-2013, and chair in 2013-2014.

“My priority as division officer is to coordinate the division’s efforts to unify scientific voices for fusion energy – the pursuit of which embraces the challenge of bringing the energy-producing power of a star to earth for the benefit of humankind,” Koepke said. “The promise is enormous—an energy system whose fuel is obtained from seawater and from lithium in the earth and yields zero carbon emissions to the atmosphere.”

As the world’s largest physics association, the American Physical Society’s objective is the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics. It serves the international physics community through the publication of journals, meetings and public programs in the firm belief that an understanding of the nature of the physical universe will be a benefit to all humanity.

According to Koepke, the society’s Division of Plasma Physics, by communicating advances, contributing in national task forces, and partnering with industry, can provide a centering force within the field.

“This election is a major accomplishment for plasma physics at WVU and for Professor Koepke personally,” said Department of Physics Chair Earl Scime. “Over 20 years ago Professor Koepke established the plasma physics program at WVU. With this election, our colleagues across the country, and even the world, have asked him to represent plasma physics to the rest of the scientific community and to the nation.

“If anything could represent plasma physics ‘coming of age’ at WVU, this is it. I believe that this is the first time a WVU physicist has led a national organization of scientists, and it is a very proud moment for the WVU Department of Physics. As a fellow plasma physicist, it is especially meaningful to me.”

Koepke received his Ph.D. in experimental plasma physics from the University of Maryland in 1984. He worked at NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the University of Washington before launching the plasma physics program at WVU in 1987.

Koepke served 13 months as acting director of the research division, managing $300 million year of U.S. fusion and plasma science funding in the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences while on full-time, temporary appointment at the U.S. Department of Energy, 2009-2011. He is a society fellow in the U.S., U.K., and Japan. He represents the U.S. plasma physics community in the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and is U.S. deputy editor of the professional journal Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion.

For more information, please contact Mark Koepke, professor of physics, at (304) 293-3422 ext. 1456, or at Mark.Koepke@mail.wvu.edu.

-WVU-

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